Autumn has arrived, Barliman holds sway over the land, and the city of Freehold is preparing to reap the most successful harvest it has had since the Great Dying. Meanwhile, the ranks of the party had greatly diminished, with only Chance Hammerstone, duerkin fighter; Biff Longfellow, fyrell wizard; and Caelynn Galanadel, fyrell ranger/fighter, still together and doing the good work of the Keeper’s Krewe.
Luckily for the stalwart heroes, Simon Keeper teamed them up with new companions in an exciting pre-adventure cutscene that introduced.
- Aurora, a fairekin warlock who serves the Summer Queen
- Kelgorion (Kel) Thunderfist, a duer cleric deeply dedicated to his deity
- Killian Tyme, a fairekin bard, talented but not very sharp
- Moon Glitter, acursed ponytaur monk with a peculiar way of speaking her mind
- Tris Talath, a dragonborn Paladin with serious parent issues
Now flush with fresh bodies, the party set out on a mission. Two cows and a farmer had gone missing in the last week or so, and strange sinkholes had been discovered in the areas where they had disappeared. The harvest workers were beginning to get scared; if the disappearances continued or escalated, they would likely refuse to continue harvesting. An incomplete harvest would mean hungry bellies or worse come wintertime.
The party began by investigating the newest of the sinkholes, where they discovered a suspicious stone that bore a rune and radiated residual summoning magic. Aurora befriended some nearby harvesters and discovered that, just days before, some duer had been seen walking the field in full armor; while the workers had just assumed the duer were part of the defense force, the party suspected differently.
Playing their hunch, Caelynn searched for, and found, footsteps made by heavy duer military boots. Recent rain had left enough tracks for the party to follow into the next field, where Caelynn finally lost the trail.
At that moment, the harvesters whom Aurora had befriended called out to her from across the field. “Miss! Is this one of them rocks you was looking for?”
Indeed it was, and though the party shouted a warning and made haste towards the stone, they were not fast enough to save the unlucky halfling as a huge, beautifully painted creature burst out of the ground beneath his feet and swallowed him.
A quick knowledge roll on the part of the PCs discerned some basic information about the beast, as follows:
Aptly called a landshark, the bulette (pronounced Boo-lay) is a terrifying predator that lives only to eat. (AD&D Monstrous Compendium, 1989)
So armed with this knowledge, the party laid into the beast. They took some hard hits, but they delivered even harder hits. Before long they were able to fell the monster before it could kill again.
The corpse of the bulette revealed more clues: runes that seemed to match the stones, magically inked onto the beast’s chitinous (pronounced Kyte-in-us) plating. The party drew the conclusion that the stone somehow called or summoned the bulette when the stone was touched, and that the bulette was therefore sent by someone to disrupt the harvest. But who?
The party ultimately ended up in a nearby copse (pronounced Kahps) of trees. There they found a small site where someone had apparently been camped. The site was in view of both of the recent bulette attacks. Amidst the gear abandoned there, they found a tabard (pronounced taberd) with a symbol on it that looked familiar to Kel, but remained unidentified.